After scanning the navigation bar at the top of the home page, I make the left rail my next stop. "Contact us" is a clear link near the top of the list.
On the subsequent page, the "Contact the Bee," my eyes jump directly to the bold "Contact the Bee" headline and continue downward, all the way to the bottom of the page. No luck; the page content is devoted mostly to driving directions and features no online-staff contact information.
But just before I click the Back button, I notice a phrase in the page's first paragraph is bolded: "Click on the contact links above." Aha! I'd skipped the in-page navigation links entirely. I'd unconsciously, and incorrectly, assumed they were either advertising links, part of the global navigation or some other useless distraction.
(It's worth mentioning here that I do not regularly read sacbee.com, and, for that reason, I'm not accustomed to the site's unconventional navigation placement. Had I been a regular reader, I probably would have been conditioned to associate that part of the page with the act of navigating a subsection.)
I click "Online Staff." Hallelujah! The page lists staff member names, positions, e-mail addresses and even phone numbers (for some folks). This is exactly what I was looking for, and it's a refreshing change from my frustrating experiences of the past three days. Despite the slight hiccup, I'm a happy customer.
Let's hope my good luck keeps up. See you tomorrow.